2017-18: Civil Legal Services in Eastern Kentucky
Trip Leaders: Amanda Allen & Hannah Flanery
In its inaugural year, BLAST sent a group of eight students to eastern Kentucky to work with three partnering organizations. Our group of eight law students lived together for the week in a two-bedroom cabin at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Floyd County, Kentucky, where we spent our evenings cooking meals together, playing Rook together, and reflecting on the work we were doing and the experiences we were having. (Some of us even got in a little studying!)
Throughout the week, Group A, which consisted of Caitlan Rocha, Sara Ramsey, and Megan Wang, led by Amanda Allen, worked first with the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky (AppalReD), and later with a local attorney named Ned Pillersdorf. At AppalReD, the students conducted a divorce clinic and met with former clients of Eric Conn, a local attorney convicted of a years-long scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration. In the evenings, the students worked on a brief for Mr. Pillersdorf on an issue also related to former Conn clients. And during their daytime work with Mr. Pillersdorf, the students assisted with deposition witness preparation, attended a client meeting for a local coal mine blasting property damage case, and provided support in a lawsuit to prevent the closing of a local community school.
Group B, which consisted of Alex Copper, Benjamin Phillips, and Jarrod Ingles, led by Hannah Flanery, spent the week working with Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center. We felt so lucky to spend the week drafting an amicus brief for the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the National Black Lung Association.
And aside from our days doing legal work, we met some truly extraordinary people along the way: Eula Hall, the founder of Mud Creek Clinic; John Rosenberg, the founder of AppalReD; the incredible women of Faith Moves Mountains, an organization doing public health interventions and research; Janet Stumbo, the first woman elected to the Kentucky Supreme Court; Justice Samuel Wright III, a current Kentucky Supreme Court Justice; and Elizabeth Barret, an incredible filmmaker from an extraordinary local arts center called Appalshop.
We felt so grateful for all of the support we were given from the law school and from amazing donors that supported us through our Crowdfunding campaign. We were blown away by the hospitality and generosity of everyone we met in Kentucky, and we can’t wait to send more students to the area for years to come!